Today’s businesses succeed when they make their main priority pleasing their customers. Research by Gartner shows 89 percent of marketers compete primarily on customer experience. Yet, the 2017 U.S. Customer Experience Excellence analysis by KPMG Nunwood found 90 percent of brands surveyed are not executing customer experience strategies effectively.
The current business landscape is moving online, whether your business has a physical storefront presence or not. Shoppers are starting the purchase process online, with MineWhat.com revealing that 81 percent of shoppers conduct research digitally before making a purchase. While review sites and social media channels serve as places they’re visiting, your website is also a top destination and crucial component of the customer experience.
Even if you do significant business through your site, a refresher to enhance customer experience can increase sales. Here are website elements to work on to improve customer experience.
In November 2016, mobile and tablet internet access exceeded desktop web usage for the first time around the globe, according to research by StatCounter Global Stats. Analytics firm Flurry reports American consumers spend five hours a day on their mobile devices. Phablets continue to increase in market share capture, accounting for 41 percent of mobile devices, compared to smartphones with a 44 percent market share.
Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they’re more likely to contact a business with a mobile-friendly site compared to a business whose site is not so friendly, according to research by BrightLocal. Even if your site loads on mobile, it’s not necessarily mobile friendly. Do users have to pinch and zoom to clearly see what they’re shopping for? Is navigation a pain because the buttons aren’t big enough to click? Does your site take forever to load on a smartphone? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, improvements need to be made for a better customer experience.
Your website should load on any device — desktop, smartphone, phablet, and everything in-between — quickly and accurately. If there are enough elements that warrant the creation of a standalone mobile app, that might please customers even more. Flurry reports time spent on mobile apps grew 69 percent year-over-year in 2016. Messaging and social elements are the most popular features driving mobile app usage, so be sure to incorporate those into a standalone app, if possible and relevant.
For every single second that you make consumers wait for a new page on your website to load, you’re frustrating them and increasing your chances of losing their business. Behavior analytics and engagement platform Kissmetrics reports half of web users expect websites to load in two seconds or less. Any longer, and they’ll completely leave your site.
There are free webpage speed tests you can do online for your website — find one here. Speed doesn’t just factor in initial site loads. If your website freezes or crashes and requires a restart, users will likely also leave.
Increasing your site speed protects your conversion rates. For every one second in page delay, conversions decrease by 7 percent. More than half of shoppers say that quick page loading positively affects their site loyalty. When you calculate the value of your loyal customers, you can see how optimizing your website for site speed on any device is vital to your bottom line.
Great customer service is an essential component of the customer experience. This relates to not only helping your customers quickly when there’s a problem, but also anticipating customer needs and providing easy-to-find solutions. Today’s on-demand customers expect quick answers to questions – 53 percent of online shoppers will not complete a purchase if they have trouble finding information or getting answers on your website, according to the Forrester Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service report.
One way to help prevent this frustration is to include a Frequently Asked Questions portion on your website, gleaned from queries your customer service team receives. You can also create a forum or knowledge bank that is regularly updated and grows along with your business. Live chat is a great feature to provide, as Kissmetrics reports that 44 percent of online consumers say one of the most important things a website can offer is the ability to have answers questioned by a real person while they’re shopping online. If your website can’t offer live chat, which can be easily outsourced and powered 24/7, at least make sure that someone is monitoring queries to your contact phone number or email and responding quickly.
Some customers prefer to contact businesses on social media instead of through a website, because social channels like Facebook and Twitter offer a more immediate-feeling interface. Customers can also monitor what your brand is posting on them, which can add to their satisfaction or dissatisfaction depending on whether your brand is helpful before posting out your next marketing message. Prominently display social media channels on every page of your website. Like other customer service support channels, make sure someone monitors and responds to communication from customers.
Ecommerce fraud is a serious concern for digital shoppers today, even as ecommerce purchases are expected to increase 12 percent in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. Experian Insights reports ecommerce fraud increased 33 percent year-over-year in 2016. With the world’s largest retailers like Target being vulnerable, protecting the data of your customers protects your business, as well.
Some best practices to protect your business from ecommerce fraud include:
- Comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, which is a set of mandates that helps to protect personal information of consumers
- Use an ecommerce platform that features proactive risk management support and constant monitoring of suspicious purchases and customer data
- Don’t store customer data
- Only process payments on a secure HTTPS server
- Protect an administration panel by making sure it’s on an internal network
- Use multi-factor verification, including address entry and a three-digit card security requirement
Never auto-populate payment information in fields for returning users. Layer ecommerce security with firewalls, contact forms, search queries, and other applications. Your business can go a step further from working on a secure platform to employing a fraud management service for extra protection. Learn more about fraud awareness here.
When you make your website personal to each visitor, you begin to build a digital relationship with consumers that can lead to increased loyalty, improved sentiment, and more referrals to your business. Those visitors are amazed by your service, which turns them into brand advocates. EMarketer reports 48 percent of marketers say adding personalization to websites or apps increased revenues by at least 10 percent. Only 11 percent of marketers say personalization had no effect.
There are many ways you can make a website more personal to each visitor. Ideas include:
- Greet visitors who are logged in by their first name on a unique landing page when they visit your site
- Recommend products based on what visitors have previously purchased from you
- Offer special discounts related to abandoned shopping cards, or based on journeys the visitor has taken through your website
- Create unique landing pages that load based on special events in the customer’s life, such as a birthday
- Feature a rewards system on your website, and prominently display the number of points a customer has achieved whenever they visit
- Give web visitors power in how they customize their experience on your website, such as the ability to change colors or layout schemes
You can also show your appreciation for customers and make the experience more personal by spotlighting them throughout your site. You can include a widget that scrolls through your most recent Instagram posts including photos from customers, use customers on a testimonials page, or spotlight customers in marketing campaigns featured on your website.
Start With Talking to Customers, and Dive Into Data
A great way to being improving customer experience on your website is by surveying your customers about what they want, what they enjoy, and what they wish you’d change. Your business can hold focus groups or create surveys you send off in email marketing, where participation means an entry into a prize drawing.
You can also use heat map research, from a service like Crazy Egg, to see what parts of your website users are interacting with the most. Then integrate those elements into other parts of your site. A website analytics tool like Google Analytics helps you to understand what pages visitors are spending the most time on, which ones have the largest bounce rates, and more.
Create a website customer journey map, and use that to refine the experience at each touchpoint. See where you’re getting the most leads and conversions, and work on boosting each part of the journey. Monitor customer feedback on channels beyond your website to gain new takeaways and inspiration to improve your design.
Download the North American Bancard Customer Experience Checklist below to help optimize your website.